TAKE CREDIT FOR YOUR PROGRESS

Megan decided she was going to use her time in quarantine to work on changing her drinking. She got clear on her compelling reason, planned for obstacles, and allowed her cravings to pass unanswered without relying on will power. After three weeks she hadn’t had a single drink. You’d think she’d be really proud, right? After all, she hadn’t gone more than 24 hours without a drink in years. But, no. Megan’s response to this accomplishment was, “well, it was easy because I didn’t have to go out.” 

This is one example of how we devalue our accomplishments, but it can also sound like:

“Yeah, I did that, but I should have done it a long time ago.” (a personal fave)

“Maybe it was good, but it wasn’t perfect.” 

All these flavors of devaluing our progress may sound true, or humble, or prudent (if we get too comfortable we’ll let down our guard), but they don’t serve us. Instead, they keep us from seeing our own capability (however imperfect it may be in the beginning). 

In Megan’s case, she still had alcohol in her house and liquor stores were open. She had plenty of access to alcohol if she decided to drink. But instead, she did the work. She showed herself that the restlessness from not having a drink when you want one, while uncomfortable, is completely tolerable. She was able to slow her habit cycle and take a look at the thoughts fueling her cravings. She practiced showing herself compassion even when she was frustrated that the cravings hadn’t gone away as quickly as she would have liked. 

But instead of acknowledging that she herself had produced this result, she chalked it up to circumstance (home alone). If that’s her thinking, how do you think she’ll fare when the circumstance changes and she can go out with friends again?  

Managing your drinking when out with friends is the same skill set as when you are alone. The only thing that changes is the thoughts that give rise to your cravings. “I’m bored, a drink sounds good” (home alone) vs. “It’ll be more fun if I have a drink, too” (out with friends). 

The capability we build in one area serves us in all areas. The trick is acknowledging that you deserve some credit to begin with.

IT ISN’T PERSONAL

Well, this was a timely book to come up on my stack.

One thing, in particular, has struck a chord with me at this time. Namely this…it isn’t personal. 

Other people get divorced, fret over their kids’ screen time, or feel lonely during quarantine. 

When we’re in it, it feels so unique and personal. But if we draw back to the 10,000-foot level we can start to reframe our situation in the context of the shared human experience. We can start to take things less personally. We are not alone in our suffering.

As Pema says, “If I really connect with my jealousy, my anger, or my prejudice, I find myself standing in the shoes of humanity.”

This is so comforting to me right now. These are surreal times. If your brain is telling you that you need to seek solace outside of yourself and need a drink to escape, you’re not alone.

Take a beat and remind yourself that we are all in this with you.

IT’S OK THAT YOU HAVEN’T FIGURED THIS OUT YET. YOU’RE STILL LEARNING.

If you’re still struggling to get your pandemic footing, you’re not alone! I’m right there with you and so are many of my clients. 

I’ve talked to lots of people over the last couple of weeks who are frustrated with themselves because:

They’re eating more

Numbing with alcohol

Struggling to provide structure for their kids

Can’t seem to focus on work 

But it’s worth noting that their frustration comes not from the eating, drinking, kids, and work, but from their thoughts that they “should” be doing it differently, followed by what they make it mean about themselves that they aren’t (out of control, bad mom, etc). 

This line of linking adds a layer of shame to what they are already struggling with.

It’s hard to take positive action and make changes from a place of shame. 

If you’re in a similar predicament try these two things to get unstuck:

  1.  Let it be okay that you’re here right now. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic for chrissakes. We’re all finding our footing at different paces. Trust that getting thrown off your game for a while is part of the process of figuring out your new normal. This is my own mantra right now: “It’s okay that you haven’t figured this out yet. You’re still learning.”
  2. Use your thoughts to generate feelings of capability instead of worry and shame. Compare these two thoughts: “I can’t believe I don’t have the kids on a schedule yet! What’s my problem?” 🆚 “I trust that I can figure this out.” I know which one most of us default to, but which one reminds you of your capability?  I promise you don’t have to be unkind to yourself to spur action; you’ll get better results when you take action from feelings like focus, determination, and capability. Play around with which thoughts generate those feelings and practice them!

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Would you believe that NOW is the perfect time to change your drinking? There are triggers o’ plenty, so lots of opportunities to practice retraining your brain and unlearning the habit. You don’t need more will power, I promise; just the right tools. Sign up for a free session by clicking on this link and I’ll help you out.

WAITING ISN’T LIVING

At our house, the novelty has worn off what initially we referred to as Coronacation.

The gravity of the situation has started to set in. 

We’ve read the headlines. We’ve studied the statistics.

We know intellectually that this could last a while, but nothing about it feels normal or like real life. It feels like we’re living in a state of suspended animation. 

A lot of us are having the thought that we’re stuck until this passes. Or think we simply need to make the best of things until life can return to what it was. 

But these thoughts, as innocuous as they seem, keep us waiting instead of living. 

They give us an excuse for numbing. 

They allow us an excuse for postponing our goals or not making changes we had planned for. 

But what if we weren’t comparing our situation to life two weeks ago or how things will look a few months from now (which, funnily, resembles life two weeks ago), how would we show up differently?

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Is changing your drinking a goal that you’ve put on hold?  Now is actually the perfect time to get started. Drinking less or taking a break completely will help your anxiety and your immune system! Starting next week I’ll be opening up 5 free spots in my 1:1 coaching program. If you’d like to claim one, message me at jennifer@thevividlife.com. ♥️

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO SIMPLY REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT THING

TBH, when I first heard that my kids were going to be off for an extra week with spring break I was excited. I fantasized about lazy days playing board games, cooking, and being generally silly. 

But then I ventured into the parent facebook chatroom for my son’s school. Within hours of cancellation, parents were posting homeschool resources and regimented schedules they were planning to enforce. Wait… what? Can’t we catch our breath?

I panicked. I started creating new curricula on the fly. I wrote up schedules. I girded myself for the inevitable blowback I’d get when I rolled out these plans. 

Then I remembered a Zen quote I read recently: The most important thing is to simply remember the most important thing. 

Deep breath. 

Here’s what I’m going to do my best to remember:

Having a good relationship with my kids is more important than making sure they understand medieval world history, identify rising and falling actions or conjugate Spanish verbs. 

Yes, we will come to some sort of home learning arrangement, but it doesn’t need to start today or this week. 

Perhaps finding peace during a pandemic is the lesson they are meant to learn right now. 

They are going to be fine. 

Be mindful of the pressure you are putting on yourself, Mama. This is especially true if drinking is how you’ve historically solved for stress. Give yourself a pass on needing to be an amazing homeschool teacher in addition to everything else you have on your plate. It’s not worth your mental health or your physical health. 

The kids are going to be okay. Allow yourself to sit with that thought for a while.

RECONNECTING WITH OURSELVES

We can disconnect from ourselves in so many different ways. Sometimes it’s deliberate. Other times automatic.

We avoid discomfort by numbing with food, alcohol, Netflix, social media.

We tell ourselves that it’s stupid to feel a certain way.

We criticize ourselves for mistakes.

We ignore our intuition.

We say yes when we mean no.

We blame ourselves.

We attach our worth to our weight, our income, our accomplishments.

Why is any of this a problem? 

Disconnection begets disconnection. It leads to more numbing. It can put you at a higher risk for depression and anxiety. 

Mindfulness is the antidote to disconnection. It requires paying attention to your thoughts and how you talk to yourself and noticing when and why you numb. Sometimes we don’t notice until later that we’ve slipped into autopilot. As we become more aware we can choose differently. 

Right now I’m reading the book in this photo (Good Morning, I Love You by Shauna Shapiro, PHD). It takes the woo out of mindfulness and backs it up with science. 

If you’d like some help getting started with a mindfulness practice in order to change a habit, click this link to sign up for a free session. 

LETTING GO OF PERFECT

Who here thought they should’ve been able to change their drinking on the first try? 🙋🏻‍♀️

Or counts sober days and starts over at zero when they make a mistake? 🤦🏻‍♀️

The desire to be perfect, especially when something feels high stakes, may come naturally, but is it serving you? Because perfect isn’t actually a thing. So what happens when you’re less than perfect (i.e., human)?

Here’s what often happens:

We judge ourselves.

We grow impatient.

We wallow in frustration.

We give up.

What if we could shift our approach to quitting, taking a break, or cutting back, away from perfectionism and toward seeing it as a practice instead? What would that look like?

It would look like setting an intention and making our best effort. If/when that effort is short of our goal, then it would look like reflecting on what happened with curiosity, adjusting our approach, and trying again. And bonus points for doing it all with an attitude of kindness.

We worry sometimes that if we aren’t hard on ourselves for our mistakes we won’t reach our goal. But what if the opposite is true? What if we could change faster and more deeply by acknowledging from the start that mistakes are part of it? Maybe then we wouldn’t be so afraid to look at what happened and understand and learn. 

This approach is not about letting ourselves off the hook, making excuses, or glossing over hard things. Judgment and shame shut down the parts of the brain responsible for learning and growth and makes changing that much harder.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to shift to a practice mindset?

THE PAIN OF REJECTION

Do you ever drink to numb the pain of rejection?

I get it. It hurts.

Thinking we’ve been rejected can cause us to feel embarrassed, humiliated, sad, despondent, defensive; none of which you probably want to sit with. 

Numbing is an easy out and, from the perspective of your lower brain, probably seems like the wise choice. 

But when we’re quick to check out, we don’t get to the bottom of the problem, so the yuck remains, we feel even worse with a hangover, and we’re likely to repeat the pattern again. 

Here’s the thing… whatever the rejection was – your daughter rolled her eyes at you, someone gave you the cold shoulder, your mother-in-law commented on your weight, your boss asks you to redo a project – that isn’t the problem. 

The rejection doesn’t cause your pain.  

It’s your thoughts about it that cause your pain. More specifically, it’s what you make it mean about you and the degree to which you agree with the criticism. 

Did you make it mean that you’re a bad mom, or you’re unlovable, or you’re not that smart? If you aren’t sure, keep asking yourself why this particular rejection bothers you. Then take that answer and ask yourself again why that bothers you. Repeat this at least five times until you get to the underlying belief. 

Do you secretly agree with all or part of what your critic said? If it bothered you, then on some level you do. That’s okay! That’s good information to have. Be honest with yourself. It’s the only way to make a change. Also, while it may seem counter-intuitive, owning that there is some truth to the criticism can be incredibly empowering.  

The desire to be accepted by a group is part of our biological make-up. Our lives depended on it at one point. So you aren’t weak or damaged for feeling the sting of perceived rejections. Focus on becoming aware of which thoughts are creating the pain so you can address it at the source. Drinking over the pain just creates its own set of problems.  

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Do you struggle with feelings of rejection or worry that friends and family will react negatively if you change your drinking? CLICK HERE to hop on a free call with me and we’ll sort it out.

Photo credit: www.freepik.com

HOW DO YOU GIVE YOUR POWER AWAY?

For me, it’s indulging in overwhelm. Telling myself I can’t handle it.

I hate how overwhelm feels but in my quiet moments, I can acknowledge its benefits.

I get to crawl back into the proverbial cave where I’m safe.

Someone else will step in to handle it. 

Both of these provide a little relief in the moment but have the long-term net effect of making me feel disempowered (which, of course, leads to more overwhelm).

I’m done with it. Now when I feel overwhelm creeping up I ask myself why I’m wanting to give my power away.

Then I listen to the answer.

It’s a gold mine.

How about you? How do you give your power away? 

Compare and despair?

Telling yourself you don’t know how to do something?

Catastrophizing?

It’s a choice you don’t have to make.